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Arms exports in the billions: German weapons for the crisis region

According to its arms export guidelines, the German government wants to restrict deliveries to countries outside the EU and NATO. But in 2020 exports worth billions were approved to a particularly conflict-ridden region.

In 2020, the German government approved arms exports worth more than one billion euros to countries involved in the conflicts in Yemen or Libya. For Egypt alone, exports of arms and military equipment worth 752 million euros were allowed until December 17. This emerges from a response by the Federal Ministry of Economics to a request from the Green Bundestag member Omid Nouripour.

Larger amounts of armaments can also be delivered to Qatar (305.1 million euros), the United Arab Emirates (51.3 million euros), Kuwait (23.4 million euros) and Turkey (22.9 million euros) will. In addition, permits were issued for Jordan (1.7 million euros) and Bahrain (1.5 million euros). The bottom line is that it all adds up to 1.16 billion euros.

Many countries involved in the conflicts

All of the countries mentioned play a role in at least one of the two conflicts that have been going on for years. In Yemen, an alliance led by Saudi Arabia is fighting alongside the government there against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The alliance includes the UAE, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan and Bahrain. But Saudi Arabia is primarily involved in the fighting.

In the Libya conflict, Qatar and Turkey are involved on the side of the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Fajis al-Sarradsch in Tripoli. Sarradsch’s most powerful adversary, General Chalifa Haftar, is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. There is currently a ceasefire in Libya and the hope for peace.

The Egyptian ambassador in Berlin, Khaled Galal Abdelhamid, sees the German arms exports as a vote of confidence. The cooperation shows “that Germany is certain that this equipment is being used for the right purposes,” he said. Egypt purchases submarines and patrol boats, among other things.

Germany actually for stopping arms deliveries

Germany has played a mediating role in the conflict that has been going on since the overthrow of long-term ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011. The federal government is primarily committed to stopping arms deliveries to the North African country and organized a summit meeting in Berlin a year ago. But even after that, according to the UN, weapons were still delivered to Libya, including from Turkey and the Emirates.

At the insistence of the Social Democrats, the Union and SPD had included a clause in the coalition agreement in 2018 on arms exports to the countries involved in the Yemen war. Accordingly, the deliveries to all states “directly” involved in the war should be stopped. To date, the decision has only been fully implemented for Saudi Arabia, Sudan, which was temporarily involved in the Yemen kieg with ground troops, and Yemen itself.

Greens: “Big gaps between words and actions”

The Green foreign politician Nouripour sharply criticized the continuing exports to the other states of the Yemen War Alliance. “This means that the agreement from the coalition agreement is not worth the paper it is written on,” he said. He also complained that the German government had allowed arms deliveries to countries that had broken the arms embargo against Libya. “There are gaps as big as moon craters between the words and the deeds of this federal government.”

In its arms export guidelines, which were only tightened in 2019, the German government committed itself to restrictively handling deliveries to countries outside the European Union and NATO. She always points to strong fluctuations in the statistics and, in the current answer, again takes the view that “a purely numerical view (…) is not a suitable means for assessing the restrictiveness of the arms export policy”.

The licenses for arms exports had reached a record value of 8.015 billion euros in 2019. In 2020, however, there was a significant decline recently. Until December 10th, deliveries were only allowed for 5.635 billion euros. This emerges from the answer to an earlier question by Left MP Sevim Dagdelen.

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